How the Left Can Become a True Political Force to Be Reckoned With
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So, what then could one say motivated the vote? We return to demographics and the role of government. Obama’s very existence represents the problematic future for the political Right; it’s not that he’s an individual whose birthplace is alleged by them to not be in the USA. This insane propaganda from the Birther movement is designed to distort the point entirely. The Birthers  and their off-spring hate Obama not because of where he was born but because he was born here. His very existence illustrates the changing demographics of the USA and its move away from being a ‘white republic’ governed by a broad ‘white’ front. Instead, we are moving more towards something else, toward a more openly multi-ethnic/multi-racial society, if not politically then at least numerically.
The election thus represented a repudiation of the right-wing irrationalists seeking to turn the clock back, and not just on race, but gender and class as well. In this sense it was not so much about what Obama had accomplished as it was about what sort of society 61 million people did not want. That retrograde society, which was rejected, was a neo-apartheid order of domination that condemned at least 47% of the population (according to Romney’s calculations) to marginalization, and condemned at least 90% of society to continued economic distress and submission.
Romney was proposing to reduce the role of government even further, at least when it came to supporting something approaching a social safety net. 61 million people recognized the barbarism contained in his message and program, and responded accordingly.
In sum, the November 6th elections were not a referendum challenging Obama’s course from the Left, but rather rejecting a challenge from the Right, since there was no viable Left alternative. At the same time there was an additional interesting feature of the elections as identified in various opinion polls: Democratic voters, while not as starry-eyed as many were in 2008, are looking for Obama to fight for them, or at least fight on their behalf. Frustration with Obama’s premature compromising in the name of so-called bi-partisanship wins the President few accolades within his base. The electorate is looking for something very different.
The Left in the elections: Building mass organizations vs. the mouths that screeched
Contrary to those who suggest that no Left exists in the USA, it is better to understand that there are two and a half Lefts in the USA. There is the organized Left, which takes the forms of very small political organizations, some of them calling themselves political parties, which are anti-capitalist and generally for some sort of socialism. There is also what Chilean Marxist Marta Harnecker would describe as the “social movement Left,” which are forces involved in left-leaning mass organizations and non-profits, more often than not single-issue or based within a specific sector. There is finally what we could term the ‘half’ Left, that is, the ‘Lone Rangers,’ the rather large number of independent individuals who self-identify as leftists but are unaffiliated with any left-wing project, with the possible exception a job with social impact, such as writers or teachers or health care workers. In each case these individuals and formations are anti-capitalist and seek a social transformation of the USA, but with varying degrees of organization, insurgency and effectiveness.
The US Left has historically had a difficult time addressing electoral politics. There are several reasons--the complications that arise from the undemocratic nature of the US electoral system; the size of the USA; the lack of attention to strategy; and most important, ambivalence when it comes to race. As a result the Left frequently sways back and forth between what could, perhaps, be described as apocalyptism on the one hand (i.e., waving the red flag so that the masses see us before the whole system collapses and, therefore, they know where to go), to reformist/incrementalism, on the other (i.e., believing that the best that can be done is to submerge into the Democratic Party and help move change until the system reaches a point where quantitative change morphs into qualitative change).